The three factors that decided Israel's latest election - analysis

What were the factors that shaped the results of the 2022 Israeli elections?

 A man casts his vote in the Israeli general elections, at a polling station in Jerusalem, on November 1, 2022. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
A man casts his vote in the Israeli general elections, at a polling station in Jerusalem, on November 1, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Three main causes altered this election.

The first was Itamar Ben-Gvir. Exit polls showed that the Likud remained close to the 30 seats it won in the previous election, and both haredi parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism – gained and maintained their strength, respectively.

The Religious Zionist Party (RZP), which ran in the same form as the previous election – with MK Bezalel Smotrich at the helm – more than doubled its size, from 6 to 14.

Ben-Gvir was the catalyst. He, more than any other member of RZP including Smotrich, was able to galvanize Right and far-right voters, as well as pull in many voters who were attracted to his pledge to use a hard hand against crime.

The second was the split between Hadash-Ta’al and Balad, which came about at the last minute before handing in party lists. The split caused Balad to fall under the threshold, wasting over a hundred thousand votes.

 Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben Gvir at the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022.  (credit: TEMPLE MOUNT ADMINISTRATION) Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben Gvir at the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022. (credit: TEMPLE MOUNT ADMINISTRATION)

Voter turnout

The third was voter turnout.

By early afternoon it became clear that voter turnout would eclipse the 67.4% of the previous election. Turnout was at 66.3% by 8:00 p.m., and likely eclipsed the 70% mark.

The large turnout surprised many, as there was no reason to expect that more people would vote in the fifth election in three and a half years than in the fourth.

The immediate impact was that the number of votes needed to reach the electoral threshold of 3.25% grew significantly. At press time, Balad was close to the electoral threshold, and the rise in the general vote could end up being the difference-maker that kept the third Arab party from entering the Knesset.

Voter turnout in the Israeli-Arab sector rose more than the general vote. Only 44.6% of Israeli citizens from predominantly Arab cities and towns voted in the previous election, but in yesterday’s vote that number likely passed 50%.

Still, the turnout rose enough amongst the Right to counter the Israeli-Arab surge, and, coupled with the other factors, brought about the Right’s win.